Alternative Realities: Upstate Diary Magazine
What would compel a photographer to create his own magazine?
Founder of Musée, Andrea Blanch, herself a photographer felt curious to investigate the drive behind fellow like-minded photographers turned magazine publishers.
Interview by Baylee McKeel
Upstate Diary is a publication about the creative possibilities that flourish outside city limits, about artists and creators, urban arts and pastoral outlets. Founded by Swedish photographer Kate Orne, Upstate Diary is a print magazine published biannually as well as a digital presence with online features.
Upstate Diary is unique in seeking “possibilities that thrive in communities outside of the city limits”; tell me a bit about this goal and why you feel it is important.
Kate Orne: Being an Artist is being a pioneer, exploring the new or re-shaping the old, and along with it comes a desire to work uninterrupted, to feel free to create — which is not new in itself, but unlike 100 years ago we now have the internet allowing us to work from wherever we choose to be. Also because of higher living costs, more and more people, not just creators, are seeking out a lifestyle beyond the cities. I left NYC 7 years ago, I have never looked back.
You focus on “creative minds”, how do you find and decide the artists to feature in your issues?
KO: Perhaps I know the particular work or the artist, or one of my very talented contributors proposes someone …
We are working without pay, each feature takes a huge amount of time to create in terms of research, images, interviews and editing –– so there are always two questions “Are we able to fully commit ourselves?” and “Is this a subject we feel our readers will enjoy?”
How many times a year do you publish and how long does it take for you to put together an issue?
KO: We are biannual (April / September). Lets just put it this way – it's definitely a full time job to create those biannual print editions and our features online. There is a lot of stuff to tend too, and it’s not all creative but also a lot of admin work. But I enjoy balancing these different roles UD requires me to take on. I get to exercise different aspects and talents of myself — which can be both challenging and deeply stimulating. It’s all about learning and exploring new stuff – the mantra of my life.
Have you seen a change in your own photography or creative process since starting Upstate Diary?
KO: There was a period in my career as a fashion photographer when I was able to shoot in a manner where I felt super free, when I felt I worked more with my intuition. I‘ve always been drawn to work with small teams, or no team at all. Sounds perhaps unusual in the fashion biz with all its glam but it worked for me. I drove without a team across the USA with Malgosia Bela over a 3 week period for a story for Italian Glamour. Guinevere Van Seenus and I drove across Argentina for Italian Marie Claire et cetera. This is the same approach I have returned to when I shoot for UD. I just love working intimately with the subject. One is more at ease, and it gives me a chance to get to know someone more intimately – without distractions.
Have you felt the relationship between your magazine and your own work to be a symbiotic one?
KO: This is my own work.
Has your magazine given you the chance to work with any artists who have been particularly influential to your art?
KO: I wouldn’t call it influence. It’s more of an inspiring experience that fills me with energy and opens up my mind to something new.
There are conversations and research that has touched me profoundly.
Director Roger Ross Williams whom spoke about his estranged father and Carrie Mae Weems talking about being a black female artist in Issue 1. In Issue 2, Alexander Calder for his joie de vivre and unbound desire for life and art and Terence Koh and Garrick Gott, the work and their property. Spending time with Jack Shainman for Issue 3 left me with a sense of faith in the future. Activist, writer & filmmaker Jon Bowermaster …big wow! And so many more…. When a subject is open and willing to share some of himself or herself and whom we can learn from – that is very inspiring.
What have been some highlights in working with Upstate Diary?
KO: To be invited to spend time with these amazing people we feature, to learn from them and to explore their homes and work spaces is a true privilege.
What can we expect from your upcoming issues?
KO: I’m a bit, you know, a “don’t jinx it” kind of girl. (Laughing) You’ll have to wait until April… It’s an amazing issue…I hope I don’t sound like Trump! I’m currently laying it all out, the talent we will feature are exceptional in their particular fields and the properties are so inspiring! I think the readers will really love it….Sign up for a subscription in our store – I guarantee you will be inspired! I definitely sound like Trump now — but hopefully with more sincerity. (Laughing)
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